“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” (John 11:11)
There are few things as final as death. This horrid thief of breath is a common enemy every human must face and ultimately surrender to. There is no potion, no surgery, and no vitamin that will delay the inevitable failing of our bodies. And so each of us will one day have to say painful goodbyes to our spouses, our parents, and our children. There is only one Man who has ever faced the enemy of death and emerged from the battle field victorious and he holds the sun and moon and stars in the palm of his hand.
It was this same Jesus, who informed his disciples that he would return to Bethany to “awaken” his friend Lazarus from his “sleep.” I can’t help but let a little chuckle escape my lips as I read this account of Jesus’ cheeky reference to death. What is so final and so powerful to us–the threat of death–is but a slumber to our Lord! Rescuing someone from the grips of this enemy is as simple as calling out their name, for our Lord’s voice is more powerful and winsome than any other that threatens to enslave us.
This Jesus who humbly walked among his creation, who took on human flesh and frailty, who ate, sang, wept, and sweat was simultaneously upholding the universe by the power of of his Word. How easy it is to forget that, though he was despised by men, he is adored by all of creation; that while he subjected himself to the ridicule of an empire, angels and oceans obey the whispers of his voice. Yes, it is easy to forget how powerful this God in human skin is until he utters matter-of-factly that they are going to go wake up a dead guy, as though all that Lazarus needed was a nudge to be brought back from the grip of death. And yet, when the Sovereign Lord of the universe commands the cells of your body to awaken, they obey.
How desperately my heart needs to comprehend this message. How I need to grasp the weight of his life-giving power! All around me I see Lazaruses who are sleeping in death, unaware of their spiritual condition, unaware of their open rebellion of their Creator. They slumber and dream, peacefully denying the judgement that awaits them. They live their lives as those who have no need of a Savior, who have no need of the one who has loved them to the point of death. They need to hear the voice of Jesus speak into their tombs of idolatry. They need him to wake them up!
What comfort there is in knowing that he is indeed able to do such a thing. This good shepherd calls out to his sheep and upon hearing his voice they obediently and adoringly follow him all the way to the gates of Heaven. Are there Lazaruses around you who have yet to wake from their slumber? Take heart in knowing that there are sheep whom he has yet to call. With a mere whisper from his Holy Spirit, their eyes can be opened and their hearts of stone can be transformed into hearts of flesh. Pray continually for their salvation–pray that the Lord would call them from their tombs. Never cease to tell them of this Jesus who loves them and offers salvation freely to any man or woman or child who would simply believe in his powerful name.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” -Isaiah 60:1